Newborn Photography Tips- Four babies in four buckets with different color schemes: green, blue, purple and pink.

12 Tips for Styling Newborn Sets

Before my clients arrive, I like to have my newborn studio ready with all of the sets I plan to use so that we can move as quickly as possible from set to set. Styling newborn sets before clients arrive allows me to get creative without wasting any of the precious minutes that baby is asleep. When my clients book, I send out a questionnaire that helps me to gather information about their color choices, prop preferences, must-have poses, and more. I also ask questions that help me get to know them before they arrive so that I can tailor the session specifically to them.

Styling Newborn Sets with Mindy Arnholt Photography

I always tell people when starting out to invest in a good bucket and a bed/cradle. With those two props you can create dozens of different looks just by how you accessorize them. 

You can easily style the same newborn prop to look different from season to season by using greenery and florals. Often I will use the same props (a bucket, a bed, a basket, etc.) to create wildly different newborn photos, simply by changing up the colors and accessories. Whenever I use the term “prop” I am generally referring to the actual vessel that baby is in. I collect these props from many vendors and vintage stores, but a few of my favorites are: LuneberryRozzi Rayne, and Baileys Knits.

Styling Newborn Sets

How to create variety in newborn photography sets | Mindy Arnholt Photography
  • Backdrops or Colorful Fabric used as a background layer for the set
  • Rubber backed floor drops, hardware store paneling, OR my flooring quadrant to create faux flooring 
  •  Jute, Lace, or Fabric elements under the props
  •  Seasonal accessories like pumpkins, snowflakes, and hearts  (painted to match the color scheme)
  • Greenery (both silk and real if the seasons allow) placed around baby, around the props or even hanging over them
  • Florals (both in vases or buckets or laid out around the bottom of the prop)

  • Stacking props (ex: bucket in a box/wooden crate or on a chair.)
  • Felted or knitted toys and “lovies”
  • Rabbit furs (for stuffing into props to create a soft place for baby or placed under the props to create another layer of interest)
  • Sheepskins or felted curly layers for layering or placing baby on
  • Scarves, fabric, wraps or lace wrapped around mattresses or pillows to change up the look of the bed or wrapped around a bucket to change the color.
  • Macrame layers or cool placemats stacked or layered under the set

I’ve created a list of my favorite vendors for all of these things in my blog post: Sourcing Your Newborn Studio, just click the image below to check it out!

Newborn photography vendors and selecting props for your photography studio

When styling a set, my preference is to keep things somewhat monochromatic. That means that I generally pick a color family and keep my accessories within that palette. You will find examples of what I mean in the photos below. 

You will notice that in many of my bucket shots, I actually place the bucket in a crate first. I fill the crate with florals, succulents, or other accessories. The layering effect of the two containers creates dimension and depth to the image. Sometimes I will also place the crate itself on top of a fabric or jute. Of course we want the focus to be the baby, but all of the little details create a really beautiful backdrop. 

In the bed shot with the pumpkins, I have a textured pink Kate backdrop laid out as a base layer. Then I used a pink scarf under the mattress and pillow before finally surrounding the whole set with pink and white pumpkins and flowers. The bamboo bed is surrounded by eucalyptus and stuffed with a rabbit fur and sheepskin in the same shade. The set is assembled on a rubber backed floor drop. Although it’s easy to overlook the flooring choice, or to go with the same one for each of your shots in the name of simplicity, I do find that switching these up helps to create a full look without nearly as much work in post.

Sometimes to create more variety in my mattresses and mattress coversI will use a simple piece of fabric, muslin, or printed blanket to wrap around the existing mattress before placing baby, you can see this in the photo of the baby in a floral crown wrapped in purple. Although I do sew a lot of my mattress covers and pillow cases-  this is a quick and easy way to keep the same props feeling fresh during.a session.

I also like to get creative with how I use my furs. Sometimes I will use a rabbit fur as a bottom layer, or even a little bedside rug, as you can see in the second-to-last photo. I also tucked flowers under the bed for an additional layer of detail. The last shot is on another backdrop that has purple watercolor floral details, so I kept the rest of the set simple, using just a purple fur to stuff the bucket.

I like using these last few photos to demonstrate using the same accessories while achieving different looks. You can see that the plaid fabric and jute layer are reused, but the colors I am using to accessorize them have changed with each baby. Adding a different hat, florals, or even posing the baby differently can give the same set a brand new look. 

Newborn photography using fall colored florals and foral halo headband/flower crown on baby
12 Tips for Styling Newborn Sets | Newborn Photography Tips
Baby boy Newborn Photography using brown plaid and vastoys bear | Styling Newborn Sets
Newborn photos with jute layer and vastoy's teddy bear | Anchorage Newborn Photographer

I hope this gave you some ideas for having fun with your newborn sets and creating diversity by adding new elements or color details to create new looks without having to buy new props. I love the hours I spend creating newborn sets before the session. I find myself listening to music or a good book on audible and pulling props, layers, headbands/hats and all kinds of other accessories. The whole process just feels like playing dolls to me- and it’s hard to believe it’s a “real job”.

If you are interested in learning more about how I style my newborn sets, where I source specific items, or how to begin building your own newborn photography prop collection, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I offer in person and virtual mentorships, but I am also always happy to just chat via dm’s.

Baby with pink and white pumpkins. 12 Ideas to create more variety in your newborn sets.


Hi! I’m Mindy- and I’m overly excited that you’re here. The truth is, I still wake up and write “I’m grateful to have turned photography into a ‘real’ job” in my gratitude journal at least 2-3 times a week. After seven years, it’s still hard for me to believe it’s real. It just makes me all swirly inside to believe that I get to make a living doing the thing that I love.  And it’s ONLY because people like you pop over to this site and decide to trust me with capturing your family that I get to do it. So seriously… thank you.